The decline of usability in OS X and iOS

Apple’s UX/UI has been getting worse for a while now. There were changes to iOS  7 that I really didn’t like, but I figured I’d get used to them. I didn’t. iOS 8 had a handful of annoyances I assumed would be resolved in an update. They weren’t. Now we have iOS 9, and it’s basically another downgrade to me. It all adds up to me being frustrated and annoyed with Apple in a way I never have before. And the OS X “upgrade” to iTunes and from iPhoto to Photos as made it significantly more difficult to perform tasks I do on a daily basis.

If I weren’t so locked in to Apple, I’d switch to Android. If they continue on this trajectory, I may switch anyway.

iOS 9

Not everybody is having these problems, but a quick search shows that I am far from alone.

App switcher with large thumbnails of each app showing no information

App switcher: No longer useful.

  • My devices are sluggish. It frequently takes 3 or 4 tries to get the screen to respond to a text or a swipe. TouchID is so slow I don’t bother to use it to unlock my phone.
  • Switching between landscape and portrait is frequently very slow. It doesn’t get stuck like it did in iOS 8, but I do still have to restart the app from time to time.
  • I can no longer sync new apps or update apps on my iPhone or iPad.
  • App switching is so much less useful. How useful are these large thumbnails? You tell me. Unless I’m switching to the app I used most recently, I use search instead.
  • Search has gone downhill too. You used to be able to search using the second word of an app. Not any more. You have to remember the exact name of the app.
  • Apple has installed another unwanted app — News — that can’t be deleted.
  • I have only sporadically received notifications of text messages since iOS 7. Not fixed in iOS 8 or iOS 9.
  • The difficulty switching between iMessage and SMS in a single thread that appeared in iOS8 has not been resolved.

iOS 8

  • Switching between iMessage and sms in a single message thread is completely unintuitive. I never figured out how to do it. This continued in iOS 9. At some point I found a kludgy solution, but it no longer works for me.
  • After I upgraded, I got only sporadic notifications of new text messages. This was also not resolved in iOS 9.
  • The device regularly gets stuck in landscape or portrait mode. I have to restart the app, and sometimes restart the phone to fix it.

iOS 7

  • Alarm and Timer screenshots

    This is way to confusing at 6am.

    Flat design 1. I get it. Skeuomorphism seems dated. The flat icons may be pretty, but they all look too similar now. Too many have the same color scheme, so nothing jumps out at first glance. Photos looks like Chrome looks like Contacts.

  • Flat design 2. I can’t use the alarm any more. The giant SNOOZE button went away, replaced by difficult-to-read-at-6am blue text. Additionally, the alarm and timer have opposite UIs. On the alarm, the blue text in the middle is Tap to Snooze. On the timer, the blue text is Tap to Stop. Guess how many times I’ve inadvertently turned off my alarm and overslept?

Photos

Holy crap. Photos.

  • It’s a bitch to find anything. It would have been fine if I had put all my photos in albums with iPhoto, but I didn’t. Did anyone? Now to find an older photo, I have to look in iPhoto moments, or remember the date it was taken. Again, fuck that.
  • The option to “Open with…” is gone. I can no longer open a photo in any  3rd party app. I have to export the photo before I can use it elsewhere, and I end up doing this several times per day. Fuck that.

iTunes

iTunes 12 bring us to yet another decline in usability, especially if you have a large music library.

  • The sidebar has disappeared. Along with it the artist or album list view has disappeared. Instead you get a screen with giant album artwork, making it cumbersome to quickly browse your collection.
  • You can restore these views, but you have to do it EACH TIME YOU LAUNCH iTUNES! And there are several steps to do the restore, and I keep forgetting what they are. So I no longer browse, I only search.
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